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Christmas Gift Guide

Daenerys

Daenerys

Daenerys

Daenerys

Daenerys

Daenerys

Sansa

Sansa

Sansa

Sansa

Sansa

Sansa

Cersei

Cersei

Cersei

Cersei

Cersei

Cersei

Cersei

Catelyn

Catelyn

Xaro Xhoan Daxos

Qartheen clothing

Qartheen clothing

A lot of detail gets lost on the screen, but every piece of embroidery created by Michele Carragher for Game of Thrones tells an intricate story.

There's no denying that HBO's Game of Thrones is a sumptuous production — set in an alternate medieval-style world, with imposing factions vying for power. There are grand speeches, thrilling swordfights, intrigue, romance, death, destruction, monsters, corruption and spooky magic — and, in amongst all the fire and blood, the finer details can sometimes pass by.

Which is a shame. London-based Michele Carragher, who lends her embroidery services to film and television projects, has hand-stitched some breathtaking, stunning works of art into the costumes of the characters who inhabit Westeros and Essos. Not only is each piece uniquely linked to the character who wears it, it also tells a story — if you know how to look.

The fourth season of Game of Thrones returns to Foxtel today — keep your eyes open for Carragher's work.

Warning: if you have not seen the third season of Game of Thrones, there may be spoilers ahead. Proceed with caution.

There were three versions of Daenerys' dress created for the third season. As Daenerys and her relationship with her dragons evolved, so too did her costume, externalising the change within. This is the second version of the dress.

Caption by / Photo by Game of Thrones image © 2013 HBO. Used with permission of HBO. All rights reserved.

The first version was rather simpler. Carragher used a simple American smocking stitch, which she combined with a randomised lock stitch in metallic thread to create a scaled effect over the shoulders of the dress.

Caption by / Photo by Game of Thrones embroidery © 2013 Michele Carragher/HBO. Used with permission of Michele Carragher/HBO. All rights reserved.

By the third and final version, the dress looked distinctly dragonish. The fabric used was a shiny paper silk as opposed to the duller linen used in the previous versions, and the scaling had grown all the way down the front of the dress, becoming quite heavy and pronounced.

Caption by / Photo by Game of Thrones embroidery © 2013 Michele Carragher/HBO. Used with permission of Michele Carragher/HBO. All rights reserved.

The scaled design was embellished with Italian tubular mesh wire sewn in with lock stitch, and metallic beads sewn in an overlapping pattern to resemble scales.

Caption by / Photo by Game of Thrones embroidery © 2013 Michele Carragher/HBO. Used with permission of Michele Carragher/HBO. All rights reserved.

The bodice of the second version of the dress...

Caption by / Photo by Game of Thrones embroidery © 2013 Michele Carragher/HBO. Used with permission of Michele Carragher/HBO. All rights reserved.

And the final version, fitting attire for the Mother of Dragons.

Caption by / Photo by Game of Thrones embroidery © 2013 Michele Carragher/HBO. Used with permission of Michele Carragher/HBO. All rights reserved.

"For Sansa's wedding dress the [costume] designer Michele Clapton wanted to have an embroidered band that wrapped around which symbolistically told Sansa's life from the Tully and Stark beginnings to the entanglement with the Lannisters," Carragher wrote on her website.

Caption by / Photo by Game of Thrones image © 2013 HBO. Used with permission of HBO. All rights reserved.

The band starts in the small of the back, and wraps around the bodice to meet again at the back of the neck. As you can see from the previous image, a lot of detail gets lost on-screen.

Caption by / Photo by Game of Thrones embroidery © 2013 Michele Carragher/HBO. Used with permission of Michele Carragher/HBO. All rights reserved.

At the back of the bodice is the Stark direwolf intertwined with the Tully fish to mark Sansa's heritage.

Caption by / Photo by Game of Thrones embroidery © 2013 Michele Carragher/HBO. Used with permission of Michele Carragher/HBO. All rights reserved.

As the band wraps around the waist, we see the Stark direwolf being overcome in combat by the Lannister lion.

Caption by / Photo by Game of Thrones embroidery © 2013 Michele Carragher/HBO. Used with permission of Michele Carragher/HBO. All rights reserved.

The muted grey tones of the dress are very much still Stark and Tully, with some gold for richness, but beaded, bright red pomegranates indicate the Lannisters' increasing hold on Sansa.

Caption by / Photo by Game of Thrones embroidery © 2013 Michele Carragher/HBO. Used with permission of Michele Carragher/HBO. All rights reserved.

At the back of Sansa's neck, the Lannister lion dominates.

Caption by / Photo by Game of Thrones embroidery © 2013 Michele Carragher/HBO. Used with permission of Michele Carragher/HBO. All rights reserved.

Most of Cersei's clothing is a variation on a theme of red and gold — ranging from pink to deep wine red — embroidered with lions, the colours and sigil of House Lannister.

Caption by / Photo by Game of Thrones image © 2013 HBO. Used with permission of HBO. All rights reserved.

For the wedding of Sansa and Tyrion, Cersei was garbed in a regally dark gown with the Lannister lions rampant on the sleeves. Carragher painted the design on to organza, then embroidered it in layers on to the fabric, cutting the organza away at the end.

Caption by / Photo by Game of Thrones embroidery © 2013 Michele Carragher/HBO. Used with permission of Michele Carragher/HBO. All rights reserved.

To create the more sculptured 3D effect, the embroidery is encrusted with beads, metal rings, Swarovski crystals, tiny pearls and tubular mesh wire.

Caption by / Photo by Game of Thrones embroidery © 2013 Michele Carragher/HBO. Used with permission of Michele Carragher/HBO. All rights reserved.

Cersei is usually seen in this dusky pink gown when not making a public or official appearance.

Caption by / Photo by Game of Thrones embroidery © 2013 Michele Carragher/HBO. Used with permission of Michele Carragher/HBO. All rights reserved.

Like her wedding dress, it has lions on the shoulders; this time, a less formal lion's head, worked into a twining pattern of curlicues.

Caption by / Photo by Game of Thrones embroidery © 2013 Michele Carragher/HBO. Used with permission of Michele Carragher/HBO. All rights reserved.

While, however, the gown might be used on less formal occasions, it is no less intricately wrought, with its heavy construction including beads, mesh wire, crystals and metal rings. Even at rest, Cersei is every inch a Lannister.

Caption by / Photo by Game of Thrones embroidery © 2013 Michele Carragher/HBO. Used with permission of Michele Carragher/HBO. All rights reserved.

A more subtle lion rampant regardant stitched into the sleeve of another of Cersei's gowns.

Caption by / Photo by Game of Thrones embroidery © 2013 Michele Carragher/HBO. Used with permission of Michele Carragher/HBO. All rights reserved.

Catelyn Stark usually seems quite plainly dressed, but if you'll look carefully, you'll usually see the Tully fish picked out somewhere on her clothing in tiny beads — usually her collar.

Caption by / Photo by Game of Thrones embroidery © 2013 Michele Carragher/HBO. Used with permission of Michele Carragher/HBO. All rights reserved.

This style of collar is seen frequently worn by Catelyn and her daughters — it's clearly a northen style, since the sisters abandon it after leaving Winterfell.

Caption by / Photo by Game of Thrones embroidery © 2013 Michele Carragher/HBO. Used with permission of Michele Carragher/HBO. All rights reserved.

If you look carefully, you can see that the insect features quite heavily in Qartheen fashion. Not, however, the flat embroideries of Westerosi fashion, but fully sculptured renditions that look as though they'll lift off and flutter away, as seen here on the left side (looking at him) of Xaro Xhoan Daxos' vest.

Caption by / Photo by Game of Thrones image © 2013 HBO. Used with permission of HBO. All rights reserved.

The insects are created separately out of cloth, wire, feathers, mesh wire and beads, then stitched on to the fabric of the costume.

Caption by / Photo by Game of Thrones embroidery © 2013 Michele Carragher/HBO. Used with permission of Michele Carragher/HBO. All rights reserved.

This is just a tiny sampling of the work Carragher has done on Game of Thrones. You can see a whole lot more on her website, as well as detailed step-by-step demonstrations for how she creates an embroidery, and another for how she achieved the scaling on Daenerys' dress.

Caption by / Photo by Game of Thrones embroidery © 2013 Michele Carragher/HBO. Used with permission of Michele Carragher/HBO. All rights reserved.
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